Tim Cullinan, a presidential candidate in the current Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) national elections, has launched a scathing criticism of one of his opposing candidates in the race, Angus Woods.

The Co. Tipperary pig farmer’s remarks come on the back of comments made by Woods – a sheep, suckler and tillage farmer from Co. Wicklow – at this week’s hustings event at the Springhill Hotel in Co. Kilkenny.

At the event Woods defended his own role as chairman of the IFA’s National Livestock Committee, and defended the work of the committee over the course of recent years –  a time when beef farmers around the country have rallied against low beef prices.

However, Cullinan has tonight, Friday, November 1, said he is “calling out” his contestant for suggesting that he has “done a good job” and “been an effective leader” for livestock farmers.

In a statement, the current national treasurer of the organisation said:

Angus Woods is living in his own bubble if he thinks he has delivered for livestock farmers over the past two years.”

Although Woods highlighted his committee’s work behind the scenes in securing the €100 million Beef Emergency Aid Measure (BEAM) scheme earlier this year in Kilkenny, Cullinan says he “questions” Woods’ “ability to negotiate” – particularly in relation to the plight of beef farmers.

“His deafening silence and inaction in the recent beef protests raises very serious questions for farmers,” he said.

Cullinan said in his nationwide canvass of farmers he is coming up against “nothing but disillusionment and criticism of IFA’s handling of the beef crisis”.

“Speaking plainly, Angus Woods cannot deny or escape from his responsibility in the proliferation of breakaway groups after drystock and beef farmers felt they were not being taken seriously by the IFA,” said Cullinan, pointing to ongoing farmer frustration over price lows of €3.50/kg for steers and €3.55/kg for heifers.

‘Stark contrast’

Referring to the recent beef sector reform talks, Cullinan claimed that the IFA livestock chairman also “defended” the 30-month slaughter age limit – a significant sticking point for many of the farm lobby groups around the table.

“Respected figures in the industry like Professor Paddy Wall, Pat McDonagh of Supermacs and Lidl said there was no valid basis for the penalty that cost farmers over €10 million in 2018.”

Concluding, Cullinan described Woods’ remarks in Kilkenny as “a display of arrogance” that stand in “stark contrast” with the reality that beef and livestock farmers are experiencing on the ground, where, he says, “their very existence is under serious threat”.